How Frequently Can I Raise My Rents and By How Much?

In today’s California rental climate, it seems as though rents are soaring out of control. In 2015, rents in the San Francisco were going up so quickly that one woman’s rent went up by a massive 400 percent. While this might seem beyond belief, it isn’t. In fact, rents are increasing significantly not only in Southern California but across the country.

It is situations like this that have led to rent control laws being put in place. However, the simple fact is that in most areas rents will only go as high as the market can reasonably bear. For tenants, it may not always seem fair that a landlord has a right to raise the rent, but in most areas, the landlord has the right to do so.

Rent Control Laws

According to attorney Nick Emmanuel of San Jose (specializing real estate litigation and landlord-tenant laws) Situations like those seen in San Francisco are “precisely the reason for rent control laws. It may be the case the market will bear a drastic increase and a landlord will be able to get a tenant at that price. But what that does, for all intents and purposes, is make that area unaffordable.”

The reality for the average tenant is that unless they are willing to sign a long-term lease, there isn’t much they can do if you choose to raise the rent. But don’t be fooled into thinking that as a landlord, you have the right to go pell-mell on rent increases at every opportunity. Even if your rental properties are in a non-rent controlled area, there are legal limitations on how much you can raise the rent by and how often you can do so.

It’s All in the Lease

The same document that sets the terms including rent amounts for your tenants is the same one that locks you into these same terms. This document is the lease. The only time you can legally raise the rent on a currently occupied property is once the lease has expired and before your tenant has signed a new one. However, you must also give your tenant a reasonable amount of notice.

If on the other hand, your tenant is on a month-to-month lease, you have the right to raise their rent at the end of any month you choose. If your property is in a non-rent controlled area, you do have the right to raise the rent by any amount you choose.

If your tenant has a lease in place and you want to raise the rent, you need to make sure you are not violating the terms of the lease and remember the longer the lease, the longer you will need to wait in most cases to raise the rent. As long as you remain within your rights as a landlord and don’t violate any laws, your tenants have no legal ground to stand on if they feel it is too much.